At the beginning of Startup Quest, a mentor—a successful entrepreneur who has already taken a product to market—selects a technology that aligns with their expertise from undeveloped patents or patent pending technologies held by the public universities of Florida, NASA, and the Department of Energy.
Mentors guide teams of participants to produce a market analysis and business plan to commercialize their technology and pitch the plan to a panel of judges. Through the simulated startup, participants learn skills such as “Understanding the Value Proposition of a Technology,” “Commercialization Strategies and Intellectual Property,” and “Sources of Funding.”Startup Quest recruits unemployed and underemployed participants with a Bachelor’s or higher degree and professional experience. Participants are paired with a mentor in teams of eight to ten. Teams are formed with a balance of marketing, finance, engineering or other skills, but members are often cross-trained in multiple occupations.